Sunday, 29 March 2015

Full Thrust: Needle in a Nebulae AAR 2

Carrying on from my previous post and Briefing

New Anglian Confederation (NAC) vessels:

RNS Blore Heath - Lancaster class Light Cruiser
RNS Coatbridge - Fearless class Escort Carrier
      - VF543 'Timberwolves' Multi Role Lightning VI fighters
      - VF545 'Deathsheads' Multi Role Lightning VI fighters
RNS Doncaster - Tallahachie class Destroyer
RNS Dartmouth - Tallahachie class Destroyer

Umbrella Gygax Corporation (UGC) vessels:

UGC Lumbrant - Battlecruiser
UGC 'Black Herring' - prototype stealth vessel
UGC Ruby - Frigate

Similarly to the first battle, the Nebula consisted of thin dust clouds dotted with asteroids and other space junk. The main things being UGC space mines set up to defend the area.

As per the briefing I had received, I asked my helmsman to study the encoding of the message I received. Although results would not be forthcoming until the end of the battle what was discovered was that the mission was supposed to be delayed. The message I received was due to be transmitted 12 hours later - by which time the UGC ships would have left the vicinity. It seems like there had been some shadowy goings on. Possibly related to UGC's funding of several NAC politicians election campaigns and favors being pulled. It seems that other shadowy figures decided that the NAC's intervention earlier was required.


Again, random flight stands represent hidden deployment and passive sensor contacts that needed to be firmed up by ships getting within 54cm.

As can be seen my deployment was to use the RNS Coatbridge's two escorting Destroyers to escort my two bigger ships. The Blore Heath (at this point my regular flagship) was to go left, while the RNS Coatbridge was to head right and use it's fighters - while keeping it's own distance.


A few turns on and the NAC ships flanking manoeuvres had identifies the UGC ships. Communication was initiated:


Captain James responded, stating that UGC ships had been involved in a terrorist attack on a NAC aligned planet. And ordering the vessels to stand down and prepare to be boarded. Footage of the industrial platforms being decelerated onto the planetary surface was provided, and there was some back and forth, before the reply:


The NAC vessels, facing a brick wall diplomatically due to the UGC corporate AI overriding their captains commands, moved into the attack. Neither side engaged in combat, each waiting on the other to make the first move. Eventually the NAC decided to fire first. The two fighter squadrons, launched earlier and in CAP around the RNS Coatbridge, moved in to attack.

This was a little bit of a silly move, as the NAC ships were all more or less moving away from the bulk of the UGC forces. Caution around the weapons of the Battlecruiser kept them at a distance and moved them to try and get good firing solutions.


The NAC fighters reached the UGC Lumbrant but held orbit, waiting on the go orders. Eventually, the NAC ships reached a firing point, and along with beam attacks on the UGC ship the fighters went in. The first wave of fighter attacks hit hard, stripping the armour off the Battlecruiser and taking it into the first row of hull.


The NAC ships did their best to avoid the Battlecruisers fire, resulting in the RNS Cambuslang taking some damage from a mine it strayed too close to. The RNS Blore Heath and RNS Doncaster turned in, trying to get decent arcs on the BC and turn towards the stealth ship. In the mean time the stealth ship and frigate started to accelerate.

NAC fighters swarming the UGC Lumbrant - two fighters were lost during the attacks.

As the NAC ships tried to turn and get back into the fight, the fighters kept up their attacks - each attack run causing significant damage. The second round of attacks caused a line check which caused one of the Advanced Shields to fail. This meant that more damage from the fighters started to break through (it basically meant that any rolls of 6 to hit did 2 points of damage and 'exploded', causing another roll. Another 6 did another 2 points of damage and another roll. Etc). This was the start of a cascade failure for the lumbering UGC ship.


With the UGC stealth ship and frigate building up speed, the RNS Blore Heath struggled to turn with it's escort. The RNS Coatbridge just tried to stay out of the fight.


Captain James called upon the Battlecruisers crew to surrender before their vessel was destroyed, but only received an automated reply from the AI. The fighters committed to their final attack, leaving the heavy ship a gutted wreck.

Meanwhile, the UGC Frigate entered FTL, getting away. The Stealth ship kept accelerating while the RNS Bosworth and RNS Doncaster gave chase - but they were at a disadvantage in speed and the Nebulae rapidly gave the stealth ship the cover it needed to hide. With no jump engine however, it's fate was uncertain, while the NAC ships and fighters would keep hunting it.

For now the battle was over, the UGC had suffered a bloody nose (after my face got smashed in the first time we played!) and the UGC learnt the dangers of fighter attacks on lightly PDS armed capital ships.

A good game, although I felt that the balance had swung too far to the NAC side. While C seemed fine with it, we had both made mistakes and I think the nastiness of fighters in the system was a bit of a shock to both of us. His prep work had been excellent - especially the sound recordings he made (check them out if you haven't already!).

The next game is being plotted in my head. It looks like we will both be speccing out fleets to play scenario's with (but not necessarily against each others fleets). The UGC will be undertaking contracts to get money to purchase new ships, while the NAC ships will be undertaking missions for promotion prospects and new vessels.

Full Thrust: Needle in a Nebula AAR 1


As part of our ongoing narrative Full Thrust campaign, C put together a scenario based on the outcome of our last game. The basic premise was that the damage sustained by the stealth ship due to the other vessels mis-jumps near it had caused critical damage to it's own FTL drive, causing it to be spat out of FTL before it reached it's destination.

NAC intel got wind of this - and despite some rather dubious characters attempting to delay any NAC response - dispatched the RNS Blore Heath to meet with other rapid response G-5 Sector ships and secure the cloaking UGC vessel.

We played this game twice, the first time being an unmitigated disaster for the NAC. Fielding a Light Cruiser, Strike Cruiser and Destroyer I was wiped out. The only saving grace had been a boarding of the stealth vessel that left is scuttled before any useful data had been recovered from it by the UGC and the destruction of one UGC frigate. C's main ship was a UGC deep space standby vessel. Complete with Advanced shields and drives, I couldn't touch it - while it's own firepower annihilated my ships one volley at a time.The advanced drives meant the advantage I had in maneuverability was lost as well.

Post game discussion we decided that it might be worth looking at the CPV rather than the NPV points system for Full Thrust. Basically NPV is the standard points buy system, but it favours large ships as due to the way the points system works they are more points efficient per weapon and hull point. Under NPV one 400 point ship is far more effective than two 200 point or four 100 point ships.

CPV works by assigning points to the combat systems of the ship, making larger hulls costlier and smaller ships more efficient. It has the downside of making smaller ships more effective - possibly leading to a situation where it's better to have 10 destroyers than 1 Super-dreadnought. However, we felt that given the smaller scale games we are playing it makes more sense to use CPV. The other side effect is it means it makes much more sense to escort larger vessels with smaller ones, rather than just using large ships on their own.

The other issue with the first game was the tech used on C's ship. To be fair, we had not talked about when in the FT timeline we were setting our scenarios, and C is not as familiar with the FT timeline than I am. This meant he wasn't aware that the Advanced Drives listed in the Full Thrust Continuum  rules are actually a Kra'Vak system and not used by Human ships in the fluff. Having decided on a time period (just prior to the Xenos War) we agreed that he could use the advanced shields as they fitted the UGC doctrine - and the fact that the corporations major investments would be well protected by the best (prototype) tech.

C had also painted up some of his ships. These are from the Brigade 'British' range.






So, having gone over bits and bobs from the game, we set up again and re-ran. One of the other changes being an escalation of the NAC response, meaning I had 650 points vs the UGC 500 points. The NAC response this time consisted of the Light Cruiser RNS Blore Heath, the Escort Carrier RNS Cambuslang and two Destroyer's as escorts. Tune in to part 2 for the battle!

As for our first game, here are some pictures showing the layout - random flight stands dotted about represented sensor contacts that could not be identified until a ship was in sensor range. These varied from mines to metallic asteroids and other such things.

Initial NAC Deployment - Blore Heath on the left with the Strike Cruiser Cambuslang and destroyer on the right.

RNS Blore Heath detects the enemy vessels.

The NAC disposition when the enemy were detected.

NAC ships start to maneuver to engage - detecting some steel constructed targets in the shape of Japanese ships. The NAC Light Cruiser has managed to put boarding teams aboard the stealth vessel on the way past (over on the left).

High speed pass from the Strike Cruiser does no damage to the UGC vessel, despite several Beam 2 and Pulse Torp batteries firing at point blank range.


NAC ships scatter to try and get into better positions. The UGC ship can turn on a dime and with several class 3 Beam's and Pulse Torps can do huge damage. The NAC Destroyer does manage to take out the already damaged UGC frigate.


The NAC vessels try to stay in the cover of the asteroids. Some nail biting turns plotted here. Hitting a 'roid is fatal. We also play line of site from peg to peg, and asteroids block LoS.

The Strike Cruiser lines up while the Light Cruiser takes a pounding, accelerating hard with lots of damage taken. 

The Light Cruiser loops round to try and collect the boarding teams - I plot the damaged Strike Cruisers turn poorly and it gets wiped out. The Light Cruiser gets to the target just as the UGC vessel turns towards it. The Destroyer had died earlier in the fight and although the NAC ship managed to pick up the boarding parties, it had suffered a life support critical and a turn later the crew were forced to abandon ship... Game over and a total loss for the NAC!


Full Thurst: Needle in a Nebula


Transmission: NAC CMD SEC G-5 TO CPT JAMES (OC RNS  BLORE HEATH)
Classification: Black-Charlie

Decode-Cypher: X-Gamma-Laura
Trimming Automation Directives Executing…

Parsing Information.
 Anomaly Detected… Trimming Anomaly from Transmission
Stored {1564-FlushDrive-2376-3-5}

Transmission Reads:

Captain, Congratulations on your success in the previous engagement.

In reading your latest FTL Buoy, we have assigned an urgent response mission. FTL Analysts have uncovered an anomaly within the enemy ship’s escape readings. There is a 75% probability based on previous readings that the stealth vessel, hereby referred to as [UGC-Black Herring] will suffer catastrophic Cherenkov shift some 26.7354 Light years hence. This damage to FTL systems is predicted within the enclosed coordinates, within the Davidson-FJ Nebula.


The chance to capture the Black Herring still exists, if we act with haste. Gather your remaining fleet and rendezvous with HRS Cambuslang & Entourage to sweep the Nebula. (An externally mounted Sensor suite has been temporarily installed upon the Cambuslang to aid in this)

Your orders are: 

-Destroy as many UG Corp vessels as possible: the presence of such a PMC Force in Sector G is disruptive to long term developmental goals. 
-Find and Acquire UGC-Vessel Designation “Black Herring”.


[END]

Additional: Data cryptologist Gavin Hurst has looked at the strange inclusion within the transmission, he reckons it’s based on an old cypher that takes advantage of physical mediums in order to confuse electronic systems. He knows this because it’s commonly used within certain University environments, and he based his thesis upon it. He requests leave from deck-duty in order to work on decrypting the message. Do you allow it?

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Forged In Battle Universal Carriers

In the last few weeks I've not been terribly busy hobby wise, but I have tried to keep chipping away. My new mantra seems to be that 'even slow progress is progress'!

Having featured the Universal Carriers I am working on previously, I have ended up going back and doing a bit more work on them. Mainly as a result of the new models coming out and mainly being dissatisfied with how mine were looking.

I've still got a bit to do - Dai gave me some PIAT gunner last year which I am trying to incorporate into the UC's while at the same time being a bit envious of the under stated way the new models represent them. I seem to be a stickler for orthodoxy when it comes to released models!

A recent EBay purchase (I burned a deck load of jokers in the last month, it's not even funny) provided some Bren mounts and extra crew figures... I will mention the other reason for that purchase in a later post. Lets just say I now own half a RA field artillery regiment, and leave my insanity at that.

Here are the four .50 cal armed Universal Carriers:




Crew are not yet glued in place and are just sitting in possible configurations just now. There will probably be more crew figures and stowage on these guys when they are done. I decided to go with two of the .50 cals in the format of the newer BF models, and 2 in the same style as the Vickers MMG carriers.

And then 4 that have the extra vehicle MG's:




Again, crew positions are representative and more stowage will possibly be added where it makes sense. The FiB models already have some stowage modelled on. I'm currently unsure whether I will break with tradition (for me) and paint the figures in the vehicles. I will probably remove them first however. Just when I thought I was done with infantry figures...

These models mean I have 4 units of 3 carriers each. Each unit will have 1 each of MG, .50 cal and Piat. I think 2 of these units will be marked up as Infantry carrier's and 2 will be marked up as Recce carriers - I'm not sure yet what to do with the Wasps, but they will probably be Infantry.

I have another 2 UC's that have been block painted as part of the 4.2" Mortar platoon transport I will feature shortly. 

1 other UC will be for an artillery spotter, and the other is currently spare - I think.

I may be getting 3 more from YD at some point. At this point I am very glad of the PSC spray!

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Book review: Chieftains - the documentary novel of a WW3 tank commander


I've returned to one of my past interests, mainly due to the announcement that Battlefront are doing 'Cold War gone hot' and partly due to some very interesting battle reports in various blogs - including some using Battlegroup rules mods. As well as some interesting computer games.

Being slightly bored last night I started checking Kindle for books relating to this topic - having read Red Storm Rising and Team Yankee years ago. A review mentioned Chieftains as being contemporary with Team Yankee but from a British perspective, so I downloaded a sample...

Less than £4 later (and at 3am) I finished the book...

A very interesting read, fast paced and well written. I'd recommend anyone interested in the biggest 'what if' gives it a read if they haven't already. While some of the kit described (such as the U.S. XM1 with a co-ax 25mm Bushmaster cannon) is based on tech that was obviously upcoming (but not yet available), it seems more or less accurate to the early '80's.

The story covers the first three days of the war, although when reading it seems like a lot longer. It is mainly focused on the ground fighting, and specifically one British and to a lesser extent a U.S. Tank crew. 

I really enjoyed this and would recommend it, especially with what may be a resurgence of interest in this period looking likely. 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Plastic Soldier Company WW2 Armour British Spray Review


With most of my fellow 6 Month Mountain Reduction Painting Challenge (6MMRPC) having hit their 6 months point last week and finished the challenge (well done everyone!), I am in my final stretch. I started almost a month later so I am aiming to finish at the end of March.

As part of that final push I've been trying to get a couple of full units that are in progress to the point of at least getting to the 'yellow' stage on my painting chart. Varnishing is still not possible due to the weather here and despite having permission to varnish in the spare room, I've held off because having permission from the better half does not always mean it's a good idea...

Today we had a dry clear day - although the wind was a little gusty. Our back garden is a lot smaller than at the cottage, and a bit more sheltered. I took the chance to try out the PSC British Armour spray I picked up a long time ago.

I've held off using the spray as my other models are painted using Vallejo Model Color 70.924 Russian Uniform as the base green. I knew that using the spray would result in a slightly different tone, but today I decided to give it a shot.




I also discovered a macro setting on one of the camera apps on my phone, so thought I would test that out.

The jeep on the right was hand painted using Vallejo Russian Uniform. The left hand jeep is straight off the spraying board. I'm not sure that the pictures show it, but the PSC spray painted jeep has a slightly deeper tone. Definitely slightly darker that the hand painted one. All in all though I'm quite happy with it.

The tin itself seems to contain a good quantity of spray. It went on easily enough (despite the wind!), although I always struggle to stick to the spray range on the bottle. at 12" it didn't seem like any spray was making it to the models. Again, this could have been the weather.

The other thing to note is that the jeep was sprayed straight on to bare metal and resin. The Loyd carriers I sprayed had been primed black first. The spray is labelled as a primer, so I will go over the non primed models with a quick coat of Russian Uniform, to help the colour match and give a little more protection.

The macro setting on the camera seems to work, but does show off my too thick paint. Getting consistency right is something I still have not managed with the Vallejo paints. When I try to water down I end up with a consistency like that of a wash, but when I don't water it down the finish on the paint isn't as smooth as I would like.

Anyway, the PSC spray is a decent match. I'm happy with it and will use it again.






Sunday, 1 March 2015

Nachtjager Digital Content - list of companies


Hi folks,

I'm sure those of you that have picked up the most recent Wargames Illustrated will have seen the article in question, but for those of you who have not, this issue lists the following upcoming Digital army lists (available through FOW digital):

British :-

1.    Parachute Company - 'will be familiar' but with the addition of M22 Locust and Veteran Churchills.
2.    Airlanding Company - 'Will benefit from interesting tank support as well as help from paratroopers of the US 513th PIR'
3.    Airlanding Armoured Recce Squadron - Potentially with M22 Locusts and Cromwells, motorcycle recon, MMG carriers and heavy mortars.
4.    Lorried Rifle - 'Represents all the hard charging troops of 159th Infantry Brigade'. Infantry with Comets - and specific mention of infantry riding Comets.
5.    Motor Company - Integral infantry of 29th Armoured Brigade, mounted in M5 halftracks. Comets, Cromwells and Challengers.
6.    Armoured Car Squadron - Represents the Inns of Court Regiment with SAS backup.
7.    SAS Squadron - Represents 1st and 2nd SAS Regiments. SAS jeeps, armoured cars and tank support.
8.    Tank Squadron - 6th Guards Armoured Brigade, with British and US para riders.
9.    Commando Company - 1st Commando Brigade. Different from other commando lists as not as 'hit and run' and now gain all of the British special rules.

US:-

1.    Parachute Rifle Company - New organisation to include 3 rifle squads with 12 men each, new firepower such as 57mm and 75mm recoilless rifles.
2.    Glider Rifle Platoon -  includes provisional glider pilot units.

The US special rules seem to change to give them 'Thunder from Heaven' which gives them a stormtrooper move. The US lists also seem to have access to Churchills.

German:-

1.    Fallschirmjagerkompanie - 'backed by Heer or SS troops'. May include different quality troops?
2.    SS-Hitlerjugend Ausbildungs Kompanie - 'Generously armed with Panzerfaust and Panzerschreck anti-tank weapons.'
3.    Grenadierkompanie - based on 84. Infanteriedivision. Representative of the Infantry units operating in the area and has access to things like railway AA batteries and some armoured support'.

It also looks like Battlefront are bringing out their own paint range, 'tastefully' in bullet shaped dropper bottles. This ties in with the dropping of the Vallejo references in the Nachtjager book. A book is also coming out this month with painting hints and tips.

Mention also of the new Universal Carriers not being on moulded bases, which is quite a change.This confirms that the UC's in the Nachtjager book are the new models (they are also not on bases).